Understanding sentence structure is key to good writing skills. Placement of a word in a sentence is important in determining its function and meaning. Every word in a sentence has a function. These functions are given names: subject, predicate, object, and modifier. Indirect objects must be placed in a certain order within the sentence to fulfill their function within the sentence. They cannot be placed at the beginning of a sentence.
Simple Sentence Structure
To understand indirect objects, it is necessary to understand basic sentence structure. All sentences must have a subject and a simple predicate. "He sings" is a an example of a simple sentence. The simple predicate is the action -- the verb "sings." To find the subject, ask, "Who or what sings?" The answer is "he."
As a sentence becomes more complex, more functional elements are added to it. "He sings the song" contains a direct object -- "the song." A direct object receives the action of the verb and answers the question "He sings what?"
Adding the Indirect Object
To make the sentence more complex and to give the reader more information, add an indirect object. "He sings me a song" is an example. The indirect object must appear after the action verb and answers the question "He sings the song to whom?"
Indirect Object Placement
The indirect object must be placed after the action verb. Otherwise, the word loses its function as an indirect object. If the sentence is changed to "He sings the song to me" -- called prepositional pattern -- the word "me" is still an indirect object, as well as the object of the preposition "of."
In modern English, the indirect object is never placed before the predicate in ordinary prose because of the confusion it can cause, although a poet might play with alternate constructions, such as this: "To me he sings the song."
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